The High Court of Lagos State has granted a perpetual injunction against Oriwu Sun Newspaper Limited, a community newspaper, and its publisher for libelous publications against a former Commissioner for Physical Planning & Urban Development, Prince Rotimi Ogunleye.
Prince Ogunleye, had filed Suit No. IKD/ADR/073/2020 at the High Court of Lagos State in the Ikorodu Judicial Division on the 4th of August 2020, against the Ikorodu-based community newspaper and its Publisher, Alhaji Monzor Olowosago, for libelous publications in their various editions dating back to 2017.
Ogunleye, who is the Claimant in the suit, filed a 49-paragragph Statement of Claim while the 1st Defendant (Alhaji Monzor Olowosago) and the 2nd Defendant (Oriwu Sun Newspaper Limited) did not file any Statement of Defence.
In a consent judgement delivered on the 11th of February 2022, by the Hon. Justice L.A.M. Folami sitting in the General and Civil Division of the High Court of Lagos State, Ikeja, Olowosago (1st Defendant) and Oriwu Sun Newspaper Limited (2nd Defendant) admitted publishing the libelous statements against Prince Ogunleye and consequently undertook to publish retractions and apologies on the front page of two consecutive editions of Oriwu Sun Newspaper.
According to the judgement by Justice Folami, the Defendants are “perpetually restrained from further writing, printing and publishing similar, identical or any libelous statement against the Claimant”.
Ogunleye, as Claimant/Applicant, had, on the 8th day of September 2020, obtained an interlocutory injunction against Olowosago and his newspaper (as Defendants/Respondents) in a ruling delivered by the Hon. Justice O.O. Ogungbesan, which restrained “the Defendants / Respondents jointly and severally either by themselves, agents, privies or whosoever or howsoever, from further writing, printing, publishing and circulating any defamatory statement against the Claimant/Applicant in the Oriwu Sun Newspaper or in any other medium overtly or covertly, pending the determination of the substantive suit before this honourable court.”
The former commissioner, who spoke after the court’s sitting, expressed happiness at the judgement and observed that it has vindicated him against the unwarranted, reckless and malicious publications by the Defendants.
He added that the judgement underscored the need for professionalism in the practice of journalism.
Ogunleye, a lawyer, journalist and former editor of the BUSINESS TIMES in the DAILY TIMES stable, advised journalists to adhere to the tenets of the profession by publishing truth based on verified facts.
When contacted on phone, Alhaji Olowosago said that both parties had settled out of court.
“We had out of court settlement which I agreed to based on my lawyer’s advice”, Alhaji Olowoshago told our reporter on phone this evening.
“Does that mean that we cannot publish again or what do you meant? It was just out of court settlement”, Alhaji Olowosago added during the brief phone interview.